Landmark public space for city gains new ground

City of Newcastle

City of Newcastle Council has awarded a tender to demolish the 59-year-old Mall Car Park, with work set to commence in early August 2021.

The contract is valued at $3.7 million and will be completed by mid-November 2021.

City of Newcastle commissioned a structural assessment of the seven-storey car park in March 2020, following issues with concrete spalls falling from the building. The car park has been closed since, due to concerns around public safety.

City of Newcastle Director of Governance David Clarke said the next step is to safely remove the Mall Car Park and continue engaging with the community and key stakeholders on how to best use the newfound space for the betterment of the city.

“The Mall Car Park has significantly outlived its likely life and restoring it is not a viable option. By demolishing the 59-year-old car park we are also removing a significant structural risk to the city and a major asbestos source,” Mr Clarke said.

“Once the car park is demolished, a stunning view corridor will open up and bring to the fore a long-held strategic vision of City of Newcastle and the NSW Government to connect the city to the harbour.”

The vision proposes to link Christ Church Cathedral to the Harbour via a grand staircase, inspired by Rome’s Spanish Steps. Accessibility for the community is a key consideration to ensure everyone can share and enjoy the proposed space, in addition to retaining 380 public car parking spaces for the community to utilise.

“The City has one chance to preserve the view corridor to the Cathedral and has the full support of The Property Council and Urban Design Review Panel to turn a long-held concept into a landmark public space for the city,” Mr Clarke said.

“The concept aims to provide a beautiful public asset for our community and a world-class attraction for visitors, whilst retaining 380 car parking spaces in a central location of our city’s revitalised east end.

“Early community engagement indicates 75 per cent of people surveyed support the landmark concept which would feature a 93 metre long and 20 metre wide public space and stairway extending from Hunter Street to King Street, enabling wide and accessible pedestrian access, active shop fronts, landings and courtyards along the proposed staircase to gather and meet. A third of people believe the concept would be a unique feature for Newcastle that would attract tourists.

“We are still in the early stages of engaging with the community and key stakeholders and are continuing to work with Iris Capital to explore this exciting vision and determine whether it can be done in a manner that meets community planning expectations.”

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